Winter Escape claims Grade Three glory at Punchestown

Top weight runs out comfortable winner for Aidan Howard

  • Sunday 13 January
  • News
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Winter Escape gave weight and a beating to the highly-regarded A Plus Tard in the Total Event Rental Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Formerly trained by Alan King, for whom he showed smart form over hurdles, he lost his way briefly before his transfer to Aidan Howard.

The little-known trainer, who also does plenty of pre-training for JP McManus, has certainly sparked him back to life as he was winning his third race over fences on the bounce.

Already a Grade Three winner, he had a 7lb penalty for that and as A Plus Tard is only five, he was also getting a further 6lb allowance which saw him sent off the 5-4 favourite.

Mark Walsh always looked confident, though, tracking the favourite into the straight before a good jump at the last sealed the deal.

The 12-1 chance was shaken up to win the race by two and a quarter lengths with the suggestion of more to come.

“I was worried about giving the favourite all the weight, but he’s a class horse. I was more hopeful than confident,” said Walsh.

“Aidan has done some job with him – when he has one he can train them. He does some pre-training for JP and he left this one with him.

“He’s won two Grade Threes now, so you’d expect he’ll be in Grade One company next.”

Howard added: “I wasn’t expecting him to beat the favourite carrying that weight, but he did it very well.

“The bit of rain actually helped as he needs a bit of ease in the ground.

“He has a couple of entries for Leopardstown and we’ll see how he comes out of the race.

“Mark gave him a great ride. He took his time, they went a good gallop so they came back to him.

“I’m delighted as I wasn’t expecting to beat the favourite giving him a stone, that’s a lot of weight and the second horse is a good horse.

“They pulled away from the rest as well. He’s a good horse I think.”

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